This week we took a look at a few handy Chrome features that you might not have noticed. Meanwhile, Google up and changed their search algorithms. Again. 

5 Very Cool Underused Chrome Features

Google touts the whole of its Chrome browser as simple, quick and efficient, but there are a lot of nifty supporting features that don't get much spotlight time. Here's a quick list of a few that are sure to help you work better and faster:

  • Pin Tab: Pick the pages that you want to keep consistently open (like Gmail) and right click the corresponding tab. Select 'Pin tab' from the menu and the tab will shrink down to just the site's favicon (on the far left)
  • Task Manager: Pull up the built-in task manager by pressing Shift+ESC. This will enable you to see the memory and CPU resources consumed by each tab, as well as close them individually:
  • Text-Only Paste: When you copy a bunch of text from a webpage, all that pesky HTML and CSS stuff usually sticks around when you paste it into a new field. With Chrome, you can remove all that embedded style by pressing CTRL+Shift+V instead of just CTRL+V.
  • Address Bar Search: If you've searched a website in the past, the next time you can do so directly from Chrome’s address bar. Type the first few letters of a website address in the address bar, like "CMSW" and then hit the Tab key. You’ll get a “Search” option that will allow you to search our site
  • Drag and Drop Downloads: You can drag downloaded files from Chrome to any place you want, meaning you don’t need to select a location each time you download

We have a full post on these features complete with nifty photo examples here

Google Cloud Connect Now Officially Looting Microsoft

For Google, the mission is clear: Recruit Microsoft users to the G side. Among their recent efforts is Cloud Connect, a plugin that syncs Microsoft Office with Google Docs, essentially keeping both the cloud and local files the same. This week the tool moved from limited beta to general release in hopes of taking Microsoft down a peg or two.

Features include:

  • Simultaneous editing for Word, PowerPoint and Excel files when using Microsoft Office.
  • Google Docs sharing URLs for each Microsoft Office file.
  • Revision history for Microsoft Office files, stored in Google Docs.
  • Offline editing with smart synchronization of offline changes.
  • No Microsoft Office upgrade or SharePoint deployment required.



Google Changes Search Algorithm to Oust Content Farms

Google significantly tweaked its mysterious search algorithms this week in an attempt to lower the rankings of low-quality, SEO'd-out-the-wazoo content aggregator sites. Not once did the official announcement actually mention content farms, but come on. Even Matt Cutts of Google's Search Quality group recently commented on the issue: “In general, there are some content farms that I think it would be fair to call spam, in the sense that the quality is so low-quality that people complain,” he said.

We can't help but wonder how this will affect sites that repurpose a heavy chunk of their content from other sources, as well as those that are simply seen as less reliable sources of information. So far, most are keeping their poker faces on.

Larry Fitzgibbon, Demand Media's EVP of Media and Operations, for one seems unaffected: "It’s impossible to speculate how these or any changes made by Google impact any online business in the long term – but at this point in time, we haven’t seen a material net impact on our Content & Media business," he wrote.

Still, what about younger or smaller sites? AOL's SEED program relies on thousands of writers for new material, and Yahoo hopes to hire 400,000 writers for its own content mill. Surely, Google's change means quality over quantity will come into play with more weight behind it.

Google Funds IPI's Innovation in Digital Journalism

On a lighter note, Google showed love for digital journalism by investing US$ 2.7 million in the International Press Institute's (IPI) News Innovation Contest.

The contest aims to find and fund progressive ideas that will have a lasting impact on the future of digital journalism in communities across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Grants will be awarded to both non-profit and for-profit organizations, including open source and mobile projects created by or for journalists.

Proposals from the EMEA region will be accepted from today until June 1st, and must fit into one of three categories: News Platform, Sustainability and Training. You can participate by submitting a proposal here.